You’ve likely heard that muscle weighs more than fat.
That’s actually a misnomer.
Think about it: One pound of _____ ALWAYS weighs the same as one pound of ______. One pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle - it just looks different.
One pound of fat takes up more space than one pound of muscle!
So a “toned” and more compact body will actually weigh MORE than a larger body with more body fat.
If there are two people who weigh 140 pounds but one person has more muscle and less fat, the person with more muscle mass will be smaller or more toned in appearance.
This is also why sometimes when someone is on a fat loss journey, their clothes will begin to fit looser but their scale weight might not budge!
Now let's go beyond the scale.
When it comes to your overall health, WHERE you store body fat can be more telling than how much you actually weigh.
Body types have been described as apples and pears to describe where someone tends to gain body fat most easily.
Apple shapes tend to gain weight in their abdomen easily. All abdominal fat isn’t necessarily “pinch-able” fat. This particular fat (aka visceral fat) is located deep inside the abdomen and covers the liver, intestines and other organs. The problem with visceral fat is that it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can increase risk for sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).
Women, if your waist is 35 inches or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity”. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course. For men the number is 40 inches.
Simply taking one's waist measurement is NOT a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk indicators associated with chronic diseases so if you have concerns - definitely see your doctor.
Basic Tips To Help Reduce Some Belly Fat:
Eat more fiber.
Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
Add more protein to your day.
Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
Nix added sugars.
This means ditch the processed sweetened foods - even those sweet fruit drinks (even 100% pure fruit juice).
Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to drive abdominal fat. This also means to make sure you get enough sleep each night. You should wake up feeling rested and refreshed!
Pear shapes tend to gain weight in their lower half more easily. Someone who is relatively lean and pear-shaped might have abdominal definition year-round! Other benefits of having a pear shaped body type is a lower risk for sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).
Pear shape weight gain tendencies do come with issues though.
Premenopausal women who tend to gain weight primarily in their lower half have higher levels of estrogen or are estrogen-dominant.
Estrogen-dominance in premenopausal women can be the cause of premenstrual syndrome symptoms (PMS), varicose veins, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, etc. Since estrogen-dominance is often accompanied with sub-optimal testosterone - men with estrogen-dominance usually have a low libido, diminished muscle mass, depression/low motivation, etc.
But check this out - estrogen-dominance in men and POST-menopausal women will both have weight-gain tendencies in the abdomen (apple shape)!
There are two ways to accumulate excess estrogen in the body: we either produce too much of it on our own OR we acquire it from our environment or diet.
Reduce Your Exposure To Estrogen-like Compounds Found In The Environment:
Drink less alcohol.
Anything that impairs healthy liver function impacts how your liver is able to break down estrogen. Drugs/pharmaceuticals fall into this category but so does alcohol! If you happen to drink occasionally - it’s recommended to take 1 mg folic acid and a B-complex to reduce its negative effects. Or keep it simple by noting your alcohol habits when you take the IDLife Health Assessment for customized vitamins.
Take a probiotic to keep your gut bacteria balanced and healthy.
Impaired or compromised digestion interferes with the proper elimination of estrogen from the body via the digestive tract. It’s important to take a daily probiotic! Make sure that when you take it - you take it separate from antibiotics, antimicrobials, or antifungals. One natural antifungal I love is SF722 by Thorne Research. To order any Thorne Research products, email me so I can get you up to 35% discounted pricing. My probiotic comes from IDLife in their customized Nutrition formula.
Make sure you’re getting enough insoluble fiber in your diet.
Insoluble fiber binds to excess estrogen in the digestive tract. You can take this in the form of a supplement or from the skins of veggies/fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Reduce your exposure to hormone additives in foods.
If you consume dairy and poultry, make sure it’s organic. If you consume red meat make sure it’s wild game or grass-fed and grass-finished. If you consume fish and seafood make sure it’s wild.
Avoid exposure to xenoestrogens.
Instead of storing your food/drink in plastic containers, use glass, ceramic, and stainless steel.
Instead of the birth control pill - use other non-hormonal methods.
Take your sleep seriously.
Melatonin helps protect against estrogen-dominance. Poor sleep habits compromise melatonin production.
No matter where you tend to gain body fat, it’s always a great idea to add a high quality multivitamin supplement to your daily regimen. I’ve been taking a customized formula for a few years now and absolutely love it. The customization is based on an assessment I take once per season or if anything in my health/lifestyle changes. I also work with the company! My website is IDLifeNYC.com. If you have any questions about it, let me know! The customized vitamins are called IDNutrition.